Researchers predict human visual attention using computer intelligence for the first time

Jun 16, 2010

Scientists have just come several steps closer to understanding change blindness — the well studied failure of humans to detect seemingly obvious changes to scenes around them — with new research that used a computer-based model to predict what types of changes people are more likely to notice.

These findings on change blindness were presented in a Journal of Vision article, "A semi-automated approach to balancing bottom-up salience for predicting change detection performance."

"This is one of the first applications of computer intelligence to help study human visual intelligence, " said author Peter McOwan, professor at Queen Mary, University of London. "The biologically inspired mathematics we have developed and tested can have future uses in letting computer vision systems such as robots detect interesting elements in their visual environment."

During the study, participants were asked to spot the differences between pre-change and post-change versions of a series of pictures. Some of these pictures had elements added, removed or color altered, with the location of the change based on attention grabbing properties (this is the "salience" level referred to in the article).

Unlike previous research where scientists studied change blindness by manually manipulating such pictures and making decisions about what and where to make a change, the used in this study eliminated any human bias. The research team at Queen Mary's School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science developed an that let the computer "decide" how to change the images that study participants were asked to view.

While the experiments confirmed that change blindness can be predicted using this model, the tests also showed that the addition or removal of an object from the scene is detected more readily than changes in the color of the object, a result that surprised the scientists. "We expected a color change to be a lot easier to spot, since color plays such an important role in our day-to-day lives and visual perception," said lead researcher Milan Verma of Queen Mary.

The authors suggest that the computer-based approach will be useful in designing displays of an essential nature such as road signs, emergency services, security and surveillance to draw attention to a change or part of the display that requires immediate attention.

"We live in a world in which we are immersed in visual information," explained Verma. "The result is a huge cognitive burden which may hinder our ability to complete a given task. This study is an important step toward understanding how visual information is processed and how we can go about optimizing the presentation of visual displays."

Explore further: Missing protein restored in patients with muscular dystrophy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Now you see it, now you don't'

Feb 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Queen Mary scientists have, for the first time, used computer artificial intelligence to create previously unseen types of pictures to explore the abilities of the human visual system.

The human brain: Detective of auditory and visual change

Jan 18, 2008

The human brain is capable of detecting the slightest visual and auditory changes. Whether it is the flash of a student’s hand into the air or the faintest miscue of a flutist, the brain instantaneously and effortlessly ...

Learning about brains from computers, and vice versa

Feb 15, 2008

For many years, Tomaso Poggio’s lab at MIT ran two parallel lines of research. Some projects were aimed at understanding how the brain works, using complex computational models. Others were aimed at improving the abilities ...

Face facts: People don't stand out in crowds

Jan 18, 2008

Why is it difficult to pick out even a familiar face in a crowd? We all experience this, but the phenomenon has been poorly understood until now. The results of a recent study may have implications for individuals with face-recognition ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

15 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

16 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0